Q. Recently I finished a screenplay based up a book that I optioned. The book was written in the late seventies by a well-know author and had some decent success. Would you recommend I include this information when sending out my query letters to potential producers or agents?
There are two reasons you'd option a novel. One, it has a great plot and wonderful characters. Two, it sold a million copies. That is, it is a bankable element
in its own right. (If it has merely a great concept, you can always steal the concept. Copyright doesn't cover ideas, only the expression of ideas.)
"Decent success" makes me nervous, as does the age of the novel. Hollywood's reaction is going to be: if this book is so great, why hasn't anyone made it into a movie yet? And why did it sell so poorly?
I would only mention the novel if you can say it was a bestseller. (The term does leave some room for interpretation.) Otherwise I'd just put the name of the book on the script and not in the cover letter. That way you're being honest without drawing attention to it. And I wouldn't mention the age of the novel at all.
Labels: adaptation, queries, rights